Fruit of public private partnership

The Divine Word University community celebrated one of the successful outcomes of public private partnership in infrastructure development at the Madang Campus on Monday 11  September, 2017.

This followed the opening of a K6 million “hi-tech” lecture and office building for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) funded by the Government of Papua New Guinea under its public investment program (PIP).

The FMHS building is among five infrastructure projects that the Catholic university received PIP funding of over K14 million for its Madang campus.

The all-in-one lecture and office complex with a capacity for 720 students attending lectures at once in 12 lecture rooms also marks the phasing out of the single floor stand-alone classroom and office building, which are the remnants of the Divine Word Institute (1979-1995) and Divine Word High School (1968-1978) days.

The occasion was emotional yet fulfilling for DWU staff and alumni associated with the institution in its heady days of bare gravel campus streets, humid classrooms and offices and teaching with chalk and blackboard.

Two Government Ministers Sir Dr Puka Temu (Health and HIV/AIDS) and Mr Pila Niningi (Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology), were on hand to take part in the celebrations and open in the building on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The ministers were accompanied by senior bureaucrats in the likes of the Secretary for Health Mr Pascoe Kase, Assistant Secretary-Social Sector Division, Department of National Planning and Monitoring Mr Joshua Himina,Deputy Secretary, Operations, Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) Mr Steven Matainaho, and Executive Manager, Flexible Education & Partnership, DHERST Mr Miti Peai, Director Health-Madang Province Mr Marcus Kachau, CEO of Modilon General Hospital Sister Christine Gawi and her senior staff.

Also in attendance were the DWU Council Chair Archbishop Douglas Young SVD the Archbishop of Mount Hagen, DWU President Professor Cecilia Nembou, Member of the DWU Council and Madang businessman Sir Peter Barter, and Fr Jozef Maciolek SVD, Provincial Superior of Divine Word Missionaries.

Several old lecture buildings were knocked down to make way for the double-storey FMHS complex which consists of 12 lecture rooms, one simulation room, one conference room, office of the faculty dean and executive officer, staff-room with cubicles that can cater for 30 staff within the Faculty, office of heads of departments with ten work stations, toilet facilities on both floors, one store room, a tea room and a UPS room.

Each lecture room, which is air-conditioned, can cater for 40, 48 or 68 students. Altogether the 12 lecture rooms can cater for 720 students in total at any one time.

The lecture rooms have been furnished with projectors and either long or round student

tables to encourage corporative learning. The latter style of sitting arrangement, according to the University is “an educational approach which aims to organise classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences, whereby students work in groups, capitalizing on one another’s resources and skills to complete tasks collectively toward academic goals, and where the lecturer’s role changes from giving information to facilitating students’ learning.

“This is a new approach to teaching and learning which was launched and implemented here at DWU in 2006,” says the University in a statement.

An identical all-in-one lecture and office complex is under construction for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The complex for the Faculty of Business and Informatics would follow afterwards.

Sir Puka and Mr Niningi jointly opened the building on behalf of the Government. Sir Puka spoke at the opening on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who could not attend. Sir Puka and Mr Niningi spoke highly of the achievements of DWU as a Catholic University that was firmly focused on educating young people with a strong grounding in Christian principles and ethics.

Dr Temu said the inauguration of the medicine and health sciences complex underlines the success that can be achieved from the partnership between the State and the Church (DWU as a Catholic University) to serve the people.

He particularly commended the Catholic Church for its well-regarded work in providing basic health and education services in the remote and rural areas where government services hardly reach. He reiterated the government’s desire to continue the partnership with the Church through its health and education institutions like DWU to provide services to the people. Sir Puka said the building will go a long way in assisting DWU produce the critical cadre of medical and health science professionals, including rural doctors and health extension officers (HEOs) needed by the majority of the population in rural and remote areas.

Mr Niningi commended DWU for its achievements as a Catholic university providing education rooted in strong Christian principles and ethics which were needed in PNG society.

He told DWU staff and students: “I commend the good work that you do.”

Mr Niningi said that “the new building supports the growth of higher education” and his Department and Ministry would continue to back DWU.

What the two Ministers stated about the ethos of DWU is articulated in its Charter which partly reads: “As a Christian institution, it shall serve national objectives simultaneously with Church purposes. The Church's broad philosophy of education, based on its broad view of the nature of man, causes the Church's expectations of the institution to cater to the total human development of every individual involved with the institute. No conflict is seen between national goals and church expectations. For this purpose, therefore, let the institute be so incorporated into the State of Papua New Guinea as to become a legally recognized identity in the country.”

DWU Council Chairman and Archbishop of Mount Hagen Archdiocese Douglas Young SVD thanked the government for the funding.

Abp Young said DWU was focused on doing its part in the development of PNG and assisting the Government in addressing the various development challenges. Therefore, he said, the University was grateful for the support by the DHERST for the PIP funding.

DWU President Professor Cecilia Nembou PhD also conveyed the University’s appreciation to the Government for the funding and stated that the medicine and health sciences building was the result of fruitful partnership between the Government and a church institution.

Prof Nembou said the FMHS building plus several other infrastructures under the same PIP tranche, such as staff houses, student dormitories and a water supply project, were evidence of the DWU culture of “doing more with less”.

She said the FMHS building is “hi-tech” meaning it is kitted with the latest information and communication technology for delivery of lectures and a simulation room for students in medicine, rural health (HEO) and other health science programs.

According to the statement from the University the FMHS Building is one of five priority projects it identified for the Madang campus and submitted to DHERST for PIP funding in 2015.

The other projects funded by PIP are, a Water Supply System (K500, 000), Staff Accommodation (K1 million), Students Dormitories (K4 million), and Lecture Building for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (K4.5 million).

“We are pleased to report that DWU Madang Campus has successfully completed four

out of its five priority infrastructure projects,” the University stated.

“The completed projects are the Water Supply System, Staff Accommodation, Students Dormitories and the FMHS building.

“And work is currently in progress on the fifth project – the Faculty of Arts and Social

Sciences Lecture Building which we hope to complete by the end of 2018”.

Once the second complex is completed, the two buildings would add to the rooms for lectures and seminars available at the SVD Memorial Auditorium, the Postgraduate and Research Centre and the Friendship Library which re also air-conditioned and kitted with ICT facilities.